Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a wedding cost?
When you consider that most weddings cost more than $36K, the ONLY essential requirement that you actually NEED to get married is your celebrant! With out me, it’s a VERY expensive party! Contrary to popular belief, the size of your bridal party or how many guests you are inviting does not effect my fee.
What do I need to get married?
Firstly, you need someone who is willing to marry you! The Marriage Act 1961 says:
“Marriage according to law in Australia, is the union of a two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
So once you’ve found someone willing to marry you, there are four legal requirements:
- You’re both over the age of 18. You are allowed to marry if one of you is 16 or 17, but it requires a court order.
- You’re not married to anyone else. If your divorce is pending, that’s OK, as long as it is finalised before you get married.
- You’re not in a prohibited relationship (or too closely related). You can’t marry your child, sibling, parent or grandparent – even if you’re adopted. But uncles, aunts and cousins are good to go!
- You give real consent to be married. This means that you are not being coerced, bribed, threatened, traded for a camel or a cow, or in any way forced to marry. For this reason, surprise weddings are off the table – unless it is a surprise to your guests, just not each other.
You also need two adult witnesses who will sign on the dotted line to say that they saw and heard you say your vows (more of this below). You can nominate your witnesses anytime before your ceremony.
So if you’re happy that you and your partner meet all of the above, get in touch, and let’s get the ball rolling!
Who can witness our wedding?
Literally anyone as long as they are adults (18 years old or over) and witnessed you saying your official vows. So, you can choose anyone you like! You can even two choose complete strangers off the street, but most people like to use the witnesses as a way to include special people in their ceremony, such as:
- Maid of Honour and Best Man
- Parents or Grandparents
- Adult children
- The friends who played Cupid and hooked you up
- Random allocation based on a lucky seat or program number.
How long do we have to wait until we can get married?
In Australia, you have to give one month’s notice that you intend to get hitched to your marriage celebrant before you get married. There’s an official form called, funnily enough the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’, that needs to be completed and ‘lodged’ with your celebrant. The NOIM can be lodged at anytime from 18 to one month before your wedding date. If you want to get married sooner that one month, you will need need to apply to a Prescribed Authority for a shortening of time. I can guide you on the circumstances where a shortening of time may be considered.
You will pay a non-refundable lodging fee to reserve my services exclusively for you on your preferred date. If you need to change your wedding date for any reason, please get in touch ASAP. If I’m available on your new date, I’ll transfer the NOIM over free of charge.
To complete the NOIM, I will need to see evidence of your name, date and place of birth, your identity (photo ID), and evidence of the dissolution of your previous marriage (divorce order or death certificate).
What ID do I need to get married?
When you lodge your NOIM with me, I will need to see:
- your passport (Australian or foreign) OR
- your original birth certificate and a driver’s licence (or other form of official photo ID), and
- If applicable, evidence of termination of the your most recent marriage, for example, original divorce papers or your former spouse’s death certificate.
All documents must be in English or have an official translation certificate.
Once you’ve got all your paperwork together, get in touch, and we can get the ball rolling!
Can Wonder Woman marry me?
Technically, yes! Wonder Woman is a marriage celebrant, but unfortunately, she isn’t registered in Australia. However, if you are planning a themed wedding, talk to Karen about getting her boots on! Say your vows with your hands bound by the lasso of truth. Anything is possible – just ask! I’m pretty much up for anything (additional fees may apply).
How do we pay you?
To book a Wonder Wedding, I will ask you to sign my Service Agreement, and send you an invoice with my bank account details. I accept direct money transfer or cash only. I do not accept cheques, money orders or credit cards.
Let me know once you’ve made your transfer so I can send you a receipt with the date for the balance to be paid.
And if you want to pay it all up front, that’s perfectly fine too.
Can we write our own vows?
Of course! In fact, I encourage it BUT… there’s always a but…by law, there is one sentence that you both need to say in front of me and your witnesses to be considered married. And this is it:
“I ask everyone here today, to witness that I [insert full name] take you [insert your partner’s full name] to be my lawful husband/wife.
And that’s it. After you’ve said those words, in the eyes of the law, you’re hitched!
Most people like to make a few more promises. These can be anything you like! Anything! I have a DIY Vows worksheet to help you write your own as well as lots of examples that you can copy and paste. Pinterest also has lots of wedding vows ideas, but I think the ones you write from your heart are the best!
Do we need to say a prayer to get married?
Only if you want to, but usually, people choose a civil marriage celebrant because they want complete choice over what is in their ceremony. So, you can add or remove any part of the ceremony that you like! Basically, there are only four things that a civil wedding ceremony must include for it to be lawful. These are:
- I need to introduce myself as a Civil Marriage Celebrant, who is duly authorised to solemnise marriages according to Australian law. I do this right at the start, so everyone knows it’s legit.
- Before you say your vows, I need to remind you of the legal definition of marriage in Australia (see ‘What do I need to get married?’ at top of page).
- You full names (as they appear on the NOIM) must be said in full at some stage during the ceremony before you say your vows. What I advise is that if you have an embarrassing middle name, we say it up front to get it out of the way. Usually, you say it as part of your vows.
- You need to say your official vows – see above.
The rest is up to you. I will ask you to complete questionnaire so I can get as much information about you as I need to write a ceremony that is a unique as you both are.
You can include as many poems, readings or other rituals as you want to. You can involve as many people, including children and furbabies, as you want to. We can add elements from your cultural heritage too. The only thing you won’t find in a Wonder Wedding ceremony is boring.
It’s completely up to you! I’ve got lots of ideas, or we can make up something that no-one has ever done before! How awesome would that be?
Then, I have the fun and creative job of writing your wedding ceremony – and you have the final say in what I say and how it goes. Your ceremony, exactly as you imagined it to be, guaranteed.
How much paperwork is there?
Not much at all really, and I take care of it all. You only need to sign five forms and three are signed on your wedding day. These are:
- The Notice of Intended marriage that you sign when lodging with your celebrant
- The Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage that you sign before your wedding ceremony (usually at the rehearsal, but can be another time)
- The Official Marriage Certificate (the other side of the Declaration) is signed on your wedding day,
- The Register (or big red book) is signed on your wedding day, and
- The Couples Marriage Certificate is signed on your wedding day. I present this to you to keep, have a quick photo, and give it to a responsible adult (usually one of the Mums) to look after until you return from your honeymoon. This is an important document that cannot be replaced – so look after it.
After your wedding ceremony, I check that everything is complete and then send your NOIM, the Declaration/Official Marriage Certificate to the Births, Deaths and Marriages office in the state or territory where the wedding ceremony was conducted.
I will email you a copy of the covering letter with the Registered Post tracking number, and then you can apply for your Official Marriage Certificate. The process and fees for a marriage certificate vary in each state and territory so it’s best to check what’s involved.
And, that’s all folks! After that, it’s Vow Renewals or Naming Ceremonies.
Do we need to get marriage counselling?
No you don’t, but I think relationship education is a good idea. As a marriage celebrant, I’m required to give you a pamphlet produced by the Australian government called Happily Before … and Ever After. I can also give you the names of some relationship counsellors that you can see. But it’s up to you. I believe that good communication skills are what makes a strong marriage, so if you think you need some help with this, why not look into it? After all, you are entering into this marriage for life – and that could be a very long time!
Do we need a rehearsal?
I strongly encourage you to have one. Even with the smallest of weddings, it’s good for everyone’s peace of mind to do a quick run through of what will happen on the day. A rehearsal is included in my fee.
I like to meet at the venue, if possible, to practise where everyone will stand. We will also do a run through of the Bridal Processional (the arrival) including the handover of the Bride to the Bridegroom (if you’re doing that), and any special rituals or readings. I like to run through the signing of the Register to ensure that all this goes smoothly, and the Bridal Recessional (the leaving).
This usually takes about 30 minutes, and is best done the day before when you’ve got all your bridal party together. Bring your parents along too and anyone else who will be involved in the ceremony. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal any of the love story! When we’re done, it’s a good opportunity fo you to take everyone out for dinner (known as the Rehearsal Dinner – who would’ve thought?)
I’ll give you a Rehearsal Tips sheet with lots of good suggestions to ensure that your wedding day goes smoothly.
Can I drink on my wedding day?
Yes, of course, but go easy! It’s perfectly OK to have a glass of bubbles while you’re getting your hair done, or a stiff whiskey or cold stubby while you’re suiting up. But remember, you are signing official documents today, so you need to be sober. If I assess that you are under the influence of any substance, I’ll inform you that today’s ceremony is a commitment ceremony, and we will have to reconvene at a later date to conduct the official wedding ceremony. Not something anybody wants to do!
Can you ask our guests not to use their cameras?
Absolutely! The request for the ‘unplugged’ wedding is becoming more and more popular, with many couples wanting their guests to put away their phones and cameras and enjoy the ceremony the ‘old school way’. I can tell you, this makes the job a lot easier for the professionals – whom you’ve employed to capture all the moments.
Some couples make up a sign, but I’m also very comfortable making the ‘Unplugged Ceremony’ announcement at the beginning of your wedding ceremony. This is usually done before the bridal party arrives.
But if you’re the kind of couple who has their own hashtag, I can let your guests know the ‘rules’ about tagging and posting on social media too. Whatever you want. It’s your day.
How do we meet you?
If you think you’d like a Wonder Wedding, get in touch and let’s arrange a time to meet. I’m available Mondays – Fridays after 6pm or weekends before 4pm. If you’re in Canberra, I can come to your place, or if you prefer, you can come to my fabulous Wonder Woman office!
If you’re interstate or overseas, let’s arrange a time to Skype or FaceTime. I really do need to meet you both at some stage before the wedding ceremony to make sure you’re giving real consent.
Do we need to bring anything when we meet you?
Nothing – just each other. The first meeting is where you check me out to see if I’m the celebrant for you, and where I check you out to make sure that you are eligible to get married, and this takes about 5 minutes! For the remaining time, I go through what’s involved in getting married, what you ID you need to bring to lodge your NOIM, and answer any questions you may have about getting married. I’ve been there, and can take you through step-by-step what’s involved. I leave nothing to chance.
But if after doing your research, you’ve already decided that you want a Wonder Wedding then please bring along your ID (see above) so we can lodge the NOIM and get the ball rolling!
Where can we get married?
Anywhere! I’m authorised to solemnise marriages in Australia, so that means I can marry you from Christmas Island to Antarctica, and anywhere in between. If you have your heart set on having a wedding ceremony overseas, talk to me about how I can marry you legally in Australia beforehand, and perform a ceremony for your guests.
I’ve got an awesome spreadsheet of venues in and around the ACT to have your wedding. Some are suitable for the reception too, and many are free! I’m more than happy to give you suggestions of some great places to get married.
Do we have to invite you to the reception?
Absolutely not. Once I’ve pronounced you Mr & Mrs, and you’ve had people applaud and throw stuff at you (it’s good luck, apparently!), my job is done. But if you’d like to offer me a cool beverage because you thought I did a wonderful job, I won’t say no. After that, I like to leave you to enjoy your guests and hand over to your photographer, who will no doubt be wanting to take lots of snaps of the newly married couple.
How much does a divorce cost?
I don’t actually know because I’ve never had one! But if you need to get unhitched before you get re-hitched, talk to the experts at the Family Court of Australia.
Remember, you can still lodge your NOIM while your divorce is pending, but I will need to see your official divorce order before the wedding ceremony.